How to View and Edit PDFs

PDF is a common document type, but sometimes viewing and editing PDFs is confusing. Learning a few tricks and having the right software can alleviate this issue.

First, you need to understand the purpose of a PDF document, and how it is meant to be used.

What is the purpose of a PDF?

PDF stands for “Portable Document Format.” Created by Adobe, it allows people to exchange documents knowing that the document will look the same on any device and using any software. You can view PDF documents in any web browser.

Thankfully there is a lot of software, and plenty of convenient tools to make filling out and editing these files much less of a hassle.

The Best way to view PDFs

Using a web browser is the easiest way to view a PDF document.

Most devices will have some sort of default program that will open a PDF document. Typically this is a web browser. Common programs include Microsoft Edge, Safari, Google Chrome and Firefox. You can set default programs to be used based on file type, such as PDF.

There are programs made specifically for PDF viewing and some of those also offer editing options. Some of these programs are free, but many are paid. On a Windows computer some popular ones are Adobe Acrobat, Adobe Acrobat DC, and Javelin Reader. Check out this article on 15 popular PDF readers. On a Macintosh computer Preview is free and will come with the computer.

Methods of Editing and Filling in PDFs

The ability to edit or fill in information on a PDF document varies based on the program and the PDF document.

Some PDF documents are created to be filled in, and you can fill these in using any viewing software. However, it is more difficult for PDF documents that were not designed to be filled in.

First identify whether or not the program you want to use is capable of it or not. If it is capable, check to see whether it is a free or paid function of the program.

Some programs may offer simple functions that allow users to fill in what they need to. These programs may also offer more advanced functions that you need to pay for.

On a Windows computer, Microsoft Edge is a great free tool to fill in PDFs. It offers the ability to add text boxes anywhere on the document, as well as the ability to draw in a signature with the mouse. Press the save icon in the top right to save the filled-out version.

Edge PDF editor

MacOS offer editing in a similar fashion within Preview. To see a tutorial on how to do that check out our blog post “How to Fill in a PDF on an IPhone.”

Google Chrome doesn’t come with built in PDF editing functionality, but you can add it by using extensions to the browser.

Some extensions may require payment, while others may be free.

Addable chrome extensions.

Most programs specifically designed for PDF editing, such as Acrobat, will require payment for anything beyond basic functionality or trial versions.

If you have any questions about viewing and editing PDFS, or if our terminology isn’t clear, please use our contact form to send us a message. Thanks!

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